Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut December 04, 2012 - 4:25 pm

Iqaluit opts out of renewing leaky swimming pool lease

“It was a quandary, an agonizing decision to make”

Iqaluit swimmers will have to wait until 2016 to anything that resembles this computer-generated graphic of its future aquatic centre. (FILE IMAGE)
Iqaluit swimmers will have to wait until 2016 to anything that resembles this computer-generated graphic of its future aquatic centre. (FILE IMAGE)

If you live in Iqaluit, the next time you try on your bathing suit, it may not fit: swimmers in Iqaluit won’t have access to a swimming pool in the city for the next four years.

Iqaluit city council voted at a special Dec. 3 council meeting not to renew its lease for the Astro Hill swimming pool, located in the same complex as the the Frobisher Inn and Astro Theatre.

That’s because repairs on the swimming pool, which the city rents from Nunastar Properties, will cost roughly $161,000, according to engineering consultants Concentric Associates International.

Major cracks in the swimming pool’s basin appeared in October after an annual maintenance inspection.

That halted swimming programs in Iqaluit, and meant the city had to give back $8,500 to pool users who signed up for those programs.

But repairing the pool “would not guarantee that other problems with the basin would not arise,” said a Dec. 4 City of Iqaluit news release.

“That’s an awful quandary to be in, to spend $161,000 and the engineers say that that might not solve the problem,” Iqaluit mayor John Graham told Nunatsiaq News.

And that’s not all — Nunastar said if the city were to renew the lease, it wanted to include a termination clause that could come into effect after July 1, 2014, just 15 months after the starting date of the new lease.

That meant Nunastar would have had the option to stop the city using the pool past that date if they wanted the space to expand their own operations. 

Graham said without that option in place, the city would have probably taken the risk and repaired the swimming pool basin.

“That was the hang-up, for sure,” Graham said. “There would probably be avenues out there where the city could have gotten money from other sources — but it wouldn’t be fair to take other people’s money either.”

Nearly all city councillors voted not to renew the pool’s lease, Graham said.

The only councillor who wanted to renew the lease was councillor Terry Dobbin.

“It was a quandary, an agonizing decision to make. But it was in the best interests, really, of the city,” Graham said.

“If we’d spent $161,000 on that, and the thing falls apart, or even 15 months down the road the lease is terminated, we would be not very popular for doing that.”

The City of Iqaluit is still paying rent to Nunastar for the unused and unusable swimming pool. The City pays $232,252.23 a year to lease the pool, about $19,000 per month in rent. 

Under the new lease, that monthly rental would have been bumped up to $21,000, or $239,219.80 a year.

The lease for the swimming pool is set to expire March 31, 2013.

The new aquatic centre that was at the centre of attention in the Oct. 15 ratepayers’ referendum should constructed and opened by the summer of 2016, the City says.

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